Hip hop documentary examines images of manhood, sex, violence in rap music

The music industry is often viewed as having “stereotypical masculine standards” that male rappers are supposed to emulate to establish “street credibility” and financial success.

The documentary “Hip-Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes” delves into this phenomenon of wanting to be “hard,” and other stereotypes associated with hip hop.

Byron Hurt wrote, directed and produced this documentary. He will be on campus Wednesday to show the film and discuss it with students.

Hurt, a former college quarterback, was watching BET one day when he realized each music video was the exact duplicate of the one before it — scantily clad women, cars with rims, money and big expensive jewelry.

Hurt said in the documentary that he loved hip hop, but the genre’s current expression of pimps and thugs prompted him to create this film.

His objective was to get men to take a hard look at themselves.

The documentary critiqued rappers’ preoccupation with instilling fear within others and the phallic symbolism of guns.

The film explained how guns have become definitions of masculinity within the rap industry.

‘Why is it so important to be hard in hip hop?’ is one of the many questions the film poses.

Another topic discussed in the film is the exploitation of black women.

Nelly’s “BET Uncut” music video “Tip Drill,” was the focus of most of the debate.

Hurt discussed the issue of women as objects with women at Spelman College in Atlanta, where Nelly refused to attend his own bone marrow seminar because students protested his video’s portrayal of women.

But, as the film pointed out, the degradation of women is not limited to scantily clad outfits but also includes referring to them as “b–es and hoes.”

The film transitioned into discussing the use of feminine traits to assault a man’s masculinity, and also touched on homophobia in the hip hop culture.

The film makes good points by legends in the hip hop industry such as Chuck D, who discussed why men in the hip hop industry choose to use these tactics to sell records.

Hurt met with up-and-coming rappers to talk about the content of lyrics and the reasons behind them.

The documentary does a good job of speaking to everyday people to discuss issues such as the disrespect of women in rap music and the obsession with drugs and gun-play.

The documentary interviews such prominent names in hip hop as Michael Eric Dyson, hip hop scholar James Peterson, hip hop historian Kevin Powell and Beverly Guy-Sheftall from Spelman College.

Hurt also gets the perspective of big names in rap music like Busta Rhymes, Jadakiss, Mos Def and Fat Joe.

The film gives insight into the masculinity, sexism, violence and homophobia in today’s hip hop culture.

The film will be aired Wednesday in Lee Hall at 2 p.m. as a part of the Ninth Annual HBCU Newspaper Conference and Job Fair.

The screening of the film will be followed by a panel discussion with director Hurt and Keith Jackson, FAMU history professor.